Cowgate residents are celebrating the opening of ‘Betty’s Hut’ and the return of a community hub thanks to support from Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The new community hub named ‘Betty’s Hut’ has been opened in Cowgate, West Newcastle, offering a range of youth provisions and support to local residents.  

Funded by the Ron and Louise Bowey Grassroots Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, the hut was instigated by local charity Projects4Change, who responded to the needs of the residents to bring back a much-loved community centre. 

‘Betty’s Hut’ is named after former resident Betty Playford, who sadly passed away last year. For over forty years, Betty provided activities for young people from a purpose-built hut in the field next to where the new hut now stands. The new development stands as a legacy to her work in the community and will allow local residents a hub for activity and services.

Su Legg, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation said: 

“I am amazed at what’s been achieved during under such challenging circumstances. Thanks to our donors, the Community Foundation has been able to support the development of this inspiring youth provision. It will provide a lasting memorial to Betty whilst creating a versatile community venue for local young people for years to come.” 

The project to construct the Hut was funded entirely by the Ron and Louise Bowey Grassroots Fund, with additional funding from the David Dockray West End Young People’s Fund at the Community Foundation to purchase the impressive gate to the site. 

Louise Bowey, who along with husband Ron, officially opened ‘Betty’s Hut’ and was delighted that their fund could support the project: 

“Betty’s Hut is fantastic it’s a huge honour to be part of something so important”.

Constructed from two shipping containers welded together, the innovative space will offer youth activities, daytime drop-in’s and projects for the community. It will be a point of contact for those in need and include signposting and referrals for food banks and hardship funds. The hut is fully insulated with heating and lighting meaning it can be used all year round. It is placed within a garden which will be tended by local residents allowing them an opportunity to grow food and flowers. 

Kelly Coates, CEO of Projects4Change, explained that there was a demand for the hut to return: 

“Cowgate spoke and we listened. They said: ‘bring back Betty’s Hut’ and we answered with a resounding ‘yes!’ Projects4Change is beyond excited to launch the new Hut and Garden in Betty’s name, our work will build on the strengths and talents of local young people and be a positive place of safety for everyone.  

“We are grateful for the grants from the Community Foundation that has allowed us to undertake this project and create a space that will become a focal point for the community.”